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“Raija and I, we really hit it off from the moment we met. We make each other laugh, and I enjoy her company so much.”

When Lisa Fisher moved to Squamish after more than 20 years in Whistler, one of the first things she did was to sign up as a volunteer “Friendly Visitor” for the Better at Home Program with Sea to Sky Community Services.

“They paired me with Raija, who had just gotten into the Westwinds Squamish Senior Living apartments, and she needed help with moving. It was such a great way to get to know each other.”

Since helping Raija move, Lisa has been visiting on a regular basis. They share a love of art and storytelling, and the occasional trip to Purebread bakery, which Raija, who grew up in Finland, calls the “sugar bomb place.”

“It’s been fascinating for me to hear about what it was like, to come to a new country and not know anybody, not know the language, not have any support. She came here with her husband, and had three kids in Canada. She is a woman of great strength and perseverance. She can be serious…. but she also appreciates silliness….and laughs at my jokes!”

Volunteers like Lisa make a big difference in the lives of seniors who might be finding it harder to continue living independently due to many little needs that become crucial when piled up. Having a volunteer Friendly Visitor can help seniors with prioritizing needs, socializing, grocery shopping, and generally staying independent while also connected in community. They can also be there to notice when more help is needed.

“There are limited health care resources in our region. So if you need to go get a scan, or to go to the many appointments seniors that come up, you often have to get to the city. It’s a massive barrier. There’s a huge need for drivers. I know that sometimes Raija hesitates to make an appointment because she doesn’t know if she’ll get a driver.”

In addition to Friendly Visitors and Drivers, the Better at Home Program also coordinates the contracting of professional cleaning services for seniors who are starting to have trouble keeping up with their own housekeeping. It costs a little more to ask for a regular staff member to provide the cleaning services, but the consistent and familiar interaction can mean better outcomes for independent living.

Lisa thinks it creates a stronger, more resilient community when there are more opportunities to connect between generations.  Growing up with all of her grandparents, she benefited from their decades of life experience.

“There’s a depth of knowledge and wisdom, history tradition and culture that you just get from being on this earth for a length of time. We need to tap into this type of wisdom more.”

When it comes to Raija, they also share a love of art and natural beauty.

“She has an incredible sense of style and design. I love looking at the pieces she’s chosen for her home, as well as her own artwork. When she was taking a watercolour class, she asked for a picture of me when I was little. I just love the painting she made of me.”

Lisa hopes that her story will help younger people throughout the corridor to consider signing up as a Better at Home volunteer.

“We need to really be mindful of how we treat this generation, knowing that we are walking that path to being seniors ourselves. We need to lay the groundwork for how we want to be treated. We need to support, honour and respect our elders, and model this for generations younger than us.”

Many of these programs rely on the gracious donation of time from volunteers and many of our programs hold waitlists for services without the generosity of volunteers. We could use your help! If you would like to volunteer for Better at Home programs or other programs operated by Sea to Sky Community Services, please visit [link] to apply.

Or consider a financial donation to support this and other programs that have a positive impact on our local communities.  You can donate to where it’s most needed.